Before I begin this post, let me just say that I am enjoying my time in Britain no matter what negativity or customer service problems I run across! Even the fact that I'm not able to carry a gun or a knife. Or pepper spray, apparently. But I'm getting off track.
The people I work with are fantastic, the food is excellent, there's so much to see, and occasionally the weather is sunny! I walk down the streets and think, I can't believe I live here - that I've been here almost four months already - it's a dream!
There have been some trying moments, though.
About two days a week I have to work in an office supply store, generally just for three or four hours to get used to it as I'll be filling in for one of the women in June. Normally I work in an office atmosphere where I only have to deal with my co-workers and the rare customer. In the shop... well, it's a shop so customers all the time! I was already nervous about this because I have a block in my brain when it comes to numbers, I am in no way NO WAY good at math and need to use a calculator for most problems.
About the second day I was training a lady came in and wanted 250 sheets of card stock in three different colors. I said great and started counting (later it occured to me that she did not even offer to help, I mean we're talkin' 250 freakin' sheets to count, but maybe I just get irritated about that kind of thing). When I took the paper around the counter I tried to do the math in my head but was too flustered. I went to get the calculator right behind me when this happened:
Mean lady: "Oh you don't need a calculator, just do the math. Young people today just can't do anything without help. Always needing calculators because they don't use their minds. Here, you do this and this and this and get £16*. Goodness."
Me: [turning red] "Okay that will be 16 pounds please."
Mean lady: [looks past me and says] "Where does she come from then?"
Co-worker: "Kath's from America"
Mean lady: "Oh well it's the same in dollars then. Shouldn't be too difficult."
* I don't remember the actual price of the paper, or the total. So I made it up.
After the lady left, my co-workers told me she's always rude like that and they don't like her. Kinda made me feel a bit better.
A couple weeks after that I was helping a gentleman with faxing a paper when he just came out and said,
[smugly] "Is there not enough jobs in America then?"
I was caught off guard again so I just replied that my husband was here.
The next day a gentleman wanted to order something we didn't have in stock. I got the form and asked him his name. He spelled it for me and it sounded like he said 'H-w-n-e-y' but I knew that couldn't be right, so I asked "W?" Of course not he said, it was double E, as in Heeney. Okay, may I have your telephone number please.
Until I moved here, I had never heard anyone use 'treble' for triple. He mentioned treble seven so I just wanted to make sure that he meant triple, because sometimes its sounds like double. This followed:
Mean man: [sharp sarcastic tone] "Yes 3 sevens. How can you come work in this country if you don't understand the language? You should be able to.
Me: [turning red, trying to play it off] "Well I'm trying sir"
Mean man: "If you can't understand me then you're definitely not going to be able to understand the man behind me, I think I'll just stand here and listen in on your conversation to see how it goes."
He didn't. Obviously he was trying to be funny or something. He knew the man behind him and he knew the man was Northern Irish and figured his speech would be more difficult for me. It wasn't even close. The man had a beautiful accent and spoke very clearly. He was very nice as well, explaining to me that that mean man knew he was Irish and was apparently teasing him.
I understand most British people just fine, just not the people who mumble and speak too fast at the same time, that's all. Once both the men had left, my co-worker said that I shouldn't concern myself with the mean man because he is just like that and ignorant.
I'm trying not to, but sometimes things like that can get you down.